National Apprenticeship Week: CIPD offers new guidance for employers

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has unveiled guidance aimed at improving the quality of apprenticeships, to coincide with the start of National Apprenticeship Week.

The guidance, called “Apprenticeships that Work”, is designed to reinforce apprenticeships as an alternative route into professions and occupations, and empower employers to take greater ownership of them.

The CIPD said that the guidance has been developed by a working group including contributions from Rolls Royce, Siemens, Capgemini, Marks and Spencer, and West Sussex Council as well as trade unions, the National Apprenticeship Service and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

According to the CIPD, around one-third of employers do not offer apprenticeships. The guide is designed to highlight the effectiveness of apprenticeships and to remind employers of all sectors and sizes how they can make apprenticeships work for them.

The CIPD has warned that apprenticeships will fail to meet aspirations unless:

  • Apprenticeships are embedded in a workforce-planning approach, as part of a long-term strategy on workforce growth and skills development.
  • The role that apprentices play in the organisation and how they will be supported, particularly by their line manager, is made clear.
  • Employers secure the support of the existing workforce and senior management, as well as line mangers and trade unions.
  • The training apprentices receive on and off the job is of high quality and tailored to employer needs.
  • Relationships with training providers are carefully managed.
  • Alternative and more informal recruitment methods are considered, especially when likely candidates are very young and have no prior work experience.
  • Employers understand the legal framework.
  • The apprentice is placed at the heart of the apprenticeships programme and employers provide ongoing support, pastoral care and mentoring.
  • Employers provide fair access to their apprenticeships schemes and widen the talent pool from which they recruit in terms of gender, ethnicity and diversity.

Katerina Rüdiger, skills adviser at the CIPD, led the development of the guide. She said: “Good-quality apprenticeships can offer an alternative, high-quality route into work and help improve youth employability. They are also a useful tool to achieve a more balanced skills profile in the UK and respond to employer skills needs. Recent government policy has been to encourage more employers to offer apprenticeships but if employers who’ve never hired apprentices before are being incentivised to do so, it’s vital that they get the guidance they need to ensure the apprenticeships serve the needs of employers and employees alike.”

John Hayes, minister of state for further education, skills and lifelong learning, added: “Evidence shows that apprentices help boost productivity and give businesses a competitive edge, with most recouping their investment in less than three years. This new guide will help employers who haven’t previously employed an apprentice take full advantage of all they can offer.”

The guide is available to download from the CIPD website.

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